Hurricane Ida steams into Gulf; watches up for La.
Just when you thought we'd slipped by without a late-season hurricane this fall, Hurricane Ida puffs up and appears to be headed for the northern Gulf Coast.
The National Hurricane Center has posted Hurricane Watches from Grand Isle, La. to the Alabama, Mississippi state line. There are flood warnings up for New Orleans, which is expected to get heavy rain. The Hurricane Watches mean hurricane conditions could develop within 36 hours, although forecasters do expect the storm will begin to lose its tropical characteristics Tuesday as it nears the Gulf Coast and experiences wind shear and cooler waters. Some chance remains, however, that it could still be a tropical storm at that point.
The storm at last check was about 75 miles northeast of Cozumel, Mexico, and about the same distance southwest of the western tip of Cuba. The storm is moving through the Yucatan Channel, and into the Gulf of Mexico.
Top sustained winds are estimated at near 90 mph, making Ida a Cat. 1 storm.
UPDATE: Ida has strengthened today to a Cat. 2 storm, with top sustained winds of almost 100 mph. The watches have been extended farther east along the Gulf Coast. The National Hurricane Center's advisory includes the following:
"RAINS WILL BE INCREASING WELL IN ADVANCE OF IDA ACROSS THE CENTRAL
AND EASTERN GULF COAST...BUT WILL BECOME STEADIER AND HEAVIER BY
MONDAY INTO TUESDAY. TOTAL STORM ACCUMULATIONS OF 3 TO 5 INCHES
WITH ISOLATED MAXIMUM STORM TOTALS OF 8 INCHES WILL BE POSSIBLE
THROUGH TUESDAY FROM THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN GULF COAST NORTHWARD
INTO THE EASTERN PORTIONS OF THE TENNESSEE VALLEY AND THE SOUTHERN